Tuesday, February 26, 2013

War on Happiness

I've been thinking about the concept of happiness recently. Of all the emotions this one seems to be the most difficult to pin down. Culturally we are programmed to seek it out. Advertisers are always trying to convince us that their product is the missing piece - if only we had (insert any product) then we would be happy. Of course they are much more subtle than that, showing us powerful images of happy people with whatever product they're pushing.
We are sort of told from a very early age what life is supposed to look like and if we can only achieve all those things then we'll be happy. Even though life doesn't work out that way for most people we often try to pretend that it does. We work so hard to show the world how perfectly our lives are going. And boy is it easy to do. All it takes is a big smile and the use of positive superlatives in response to all questions. How are you doing? - "fantastic!" What have you been up to? - "Work has been wonderful and we're planning an amazing trip to celebrate how fabulous our lives are." 

Nothing is ever enough. Happiness has become perpetually out of reach. Or so it would seem.

I absolutely think we can all be happy. The challenge, for me anyway, is just trying to get rid of all the noise designed to make me feel lacking. The things that actually make me happy are so much simpler. I'm happiest when I'm talking and laughing with loved ones, taking in great art or reading a great book. A tidy house and a good meal make me happy. Snuggling with my husband and our sweet little dog make me happy. Feeling productive and purposeful make me happy.

Life with chronic pain is a constant challenge both physically and emotionally. For that reason those moments of happiness are so much more important to me these days. I've actually started to take the societal war on happiness personally. Advertisements are everywhere and just when you think these is no more room to squeeze in more ads you find yourself staring at a panel of 10 ads while on a public toilet. It's just too much! We don't need all this crap and we certainly don't need to look at ads while we pee. 

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